Do You Know Someone Living in "The Game"?
By Sherry McMurray
Family Violence Protection Worker,
Anishnaabe Kwewag Gamig Inc.
Anyone can become a victim of human trafficking, known as
“The Game”. This could be your sister, best friend or the girl who sits in
front of you in science class. “The Game” is happening in cities,
suburbs and rural areas. This is happening in your town all around you:
in motels, truck stops and even in cars.
Northumberland County is on the 401 corridor, which is a common
route for Traffickers to move victims from place to place. One day the
victim is in Toronto, then Peterborough and next Cobourg.
Traffickers are constantly looking for their next victim and victims are usually between ages of 12 to16. Traffickers are skilled at identifying people who look vulnerable, such as people looking to fill a void in life, or who have low self-esteem. First the Trafficker will reach out to the potential victim in person, perhaps at the mall or through social media. The trafficker will attempt to lure victims with false promises of a lucrative job, stability, education or a loving relationship. The Trafficker will shower the targeted person with attention, give compliments to make the person feel special. Sometimes the Trafficker will act like a boyfriend or a friend. This is the grooming process. Once the trafficker has gained the person’s trust, they will attempt to control him or her. For example, ordering how to dress, how much makeup to put on, or when to talk. Trafficker will escalate this behaviour through the use of violence and fear to keep control over victims. This intimidation keeps victims from telling anyone or running away. Now the trafficker will take obscene photos of the victim to advertise her/him to potential customers or “Johns”. The trafficker further manipulates the victim by making the victim think they are indebted to the trafficker.
"Once the trafficker has gained the person’s trust, they will attempt to control him or her."
There are students in surrounding area high schools who are attending school by day and trafficked by night. Busy times for trafficked victims are before school, at lunch and after school. The student returns home to sleep in his or her own beds only to follow this routine the next day.
Victims are led to believe they are entering a world of glamour and riches, but in reality they are entering a world of severe abuse. Victims endure physical, sexual, emotional and financial abuse from the trafficker and Johns. Victims may not realize they are a victim of human trafficking because of the relationship they feel they have with the trafficker. The victim may think she is doing a favour for her boyfriend.
Victims are often moved around by traffickers, isolated from family and/or people they know or areas that are familiar to them. Victims of sex trafficking may be moved from hotel to hotel, even province to province. This can happen within the first 24 hours of the victim leaving home.
Signs of a Victim of Human Trafficking:
Being controlled by others, driven to and from locations, and escorted at all times
Being controlled and watched by others, having someone speak for them in public
Not having a passport or other forms of I.D. in their possession
Act in a fearful, anxious, submissive or nervous manner, or display excessive concern about displeasing partner/employer
Avoids eye contact, has another person speak for them
Doesn’t have their own cell phone
May be dressed in clothing inappropriate for the time of year or context
May suddenly have expensive clothing, purses, shoes, nail services
Branding with tattoos of the trafficker’s name or symbol
Please help protect your friend, call the Police. Never confront the Trafficker or the Victim.
For more info on human trafficking, visit Kids Help phone: https://kidshelpphone.ca/topic/bullying-abuse/human-trafficking/